TENKASI: Charging that the production unit of Dhanush-starrer Captain Miller has caused damage to the Chenkulam canal bank and constructed a wooden bridge across the waterbody without permission, MDMK Keezhapavur union councillor Rama Udayasuriyan has petitioned the district administration to take action against the movie unit.
He also alleged that the shooting crew camped in the buffer zone of the Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve (KMTR) near Mathalamparai village and were using high beam lights besides lighting fires during the shoot. "These activities are severely affecting the wild animals in the area," he said. Captain Miller is bankrolled by Sathya Jyothi Films.
"When we were inspecting the Chenkulam canal for construction of a check dam, we found out that the movie unit had caused damage to the bank and filled a portion of the canal with soil. This canal brings water from the Old Courtallam Falls to around 15 tanks. When I contacted the authorities of the movie unit, they claimed that they are acquaintances of Chief Minister M K Stalin. The forest department and public works department (PWD) should take action against the movie unit," the councillor demanded.
Sources said the crew has been camping in the buffer zone of KMTR since the last week of January and has constructed a mega film set on a piece of private land for the movie. S Murugesan, a farmer in the area said recently an elephant, possibly panicked by the noise from the film set, intruded onto nearby farm fields. The animal damaged several coconut trees on my land. Usually, elephants that intrude onto our fields return to the forest after damaging crops. However, this film set is constructed on the way back to the forest, leading to a lone elephant roaming around on our fields over the past few days," the farmer said.
When contacted by TNIE, Deputy Director and Wildlife Warden of KMTR S Senbagapriya said she was not given any intimation about the film shooting in the buffer zone. "The shooting is going on outside the reserve forest. Even so, permission from the Chief Wildlife Warden is required to carry out film shooting in the KMTR buffer zone. The forest department has not permitted anyone to shoot in Mathalamparai," she added. PWD Assistant Executive Engineer Subramania Pandian also clarified that the PWD had issued no permit to construct a wooden bridge or make alterations to canal banks.
Rajkumar, an executive officer of Sathya Jyothi Films told TNIE that he had obtained permission from the forest department ahead of the shoot. "We have decided to dedicate the wooden bridge for public use after the shooting. The film set, which was constructed on a parcel of private land, has offered employment to many people from Tamil Nadu. Our shoot is expected to end by April," he added.
The executive officer shared a copy of the permit, in which Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden Srinivas R Reddy has granted permission on March 9 for conducting shooting of Captain Miller on 'Manimuthar 80 feet canal' in Tirunelveli district under Section 28 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. However, when asked if he had obtained permission for the mega film set located in the KMTR's buffer zone in the Tenkasi district, Rajkumar said no permission was obtained as the set is located on private land.
When TNIE tried to contact the minister for forests M Mathiventhan, his personal assistant attended the call and said the minister would look into the issue and respond on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Environment Climate Change & Forests Additional Chief Secretary Supriya Sahu said she would ask the principal chief conservator of forests to enquire into the matter.